Psalm 33

Chatswood Baptist Church https://www.chatswoodbaptist.com.au

Hope in his unfailing love leads to praise and is the antidote for anxiousness

Introduction

Psalm 33 paints a wonderful picture about God, His character, his unfailing love, His righteousness. And because it is about these things, we are given hope and can’t help but praise our Father. What also becomes evident is that hope and praise are the antidote for our anxiousness or worry.

It can be really hard to not get carried away with stress, anxiousness and worry. And these can be brought on by so many things. Yet God through his word the Bible wants us to know that even in these things, no perhaps especially in these things, we can trust him, we can cast our cares on him, we can believe that all he has said is true and that we are found in him. We all struggle. We all feel at times that it is hard to cope. An article in Psychology Today from November 2018, talks about the added stress or anxiety that the digital age has brought on. The fact that we are connected 24/7, has caused a new type of anxiety. Some of the causes might have changed, but the fact is most of us worry. There is a reason why Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-34, in the sermon on the mount six times for us not to be anxious, not to worry. God knows that we do worry. This psalm reminds us that if we know who God is and trust in him, we need not worry.

Last week Matt spoke about the true blessing of forgiveness, of having our sins washed away. There is little doubt that Psalm 32 from last week and Psalm 33 which we are looking at this week fit together nicely. Whether or not they are in fact they share the same author is debated, they do share the common theme of being forgiven, of being counted righteous. These two psalms also nicely dove tail into each other as the final words of psalm 32 are almost exactly repeated in the first verse of psalm 33.

The writer of Psalm 33 is pretty clear about what a song of praise should look like for God’s gathered people. There are three distinct sections to this psalm, yet they really do form a cycle, or to put it another way, they all spur one another on. We start with praise of God.

  1. Praise

The first verse of Psalm 33 calls us to praise.

1“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;

it is fitting for the upright to praise him.”

If we as a people saved by God through the forgiveness of sins by the blood of His own dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ are righteous. And this is what we have been reading and studying and listening to sermons from Paul’s letter to the Churches in Rome. If we are counted righteous through Faith in Christ, then fittingly we should Shout Joyfully to the Lord.  Now I know that the version of the bible that we have says ‘sing joyfully’. However, I think that the it is better translated shout joyfully or rejoice as seen in the ESV and NRSV respectively.  Shouting is not something that is acceptable in most situations. I think this is mainly because if we hear someone shouting it’s often not in a nice way, in fact if someone if shouting it is often cause for us to put our hands over our children’s ears as there are often words that shouldn’t be used. Yet the Bible has no such understanding in this context. In the context of praise, we are to lift our voices loudly, with passion and zeal and remember that this praise is because of what God has done.

Josie, Mitchell and I were at the State of Origin match on Wednesday night. There were 82,000 people shouting praise for their football team. Now don’t get me wrong, I was one of them, I’m not saying that this is bad. It is fine. But……what does it say about us if we can yell and scream about how well a football team are playing, yet when it comes to God, who He is and what He has done for us, and we can barely raise a whimper. I’m not saying we have to shout, but if we are able to shout or sing joyfully about something other than God. Well it should make us pause and reflect on thankfulness. If it is fitting for the upright (you and I) to praise him then we should do it!

Psalm 33 is a hymn, it’s a song. Verse 2 & 3 make this clear.

2Praise the Lord with the harp;

Make music to him on the ten stringed lyre.

3Sing to him a new song;

Play skillfully, and shout for joy.

Praise the Lord with music. That’s pretty clear what is being exhorted here by the psalmist. Yet praise isn’t simply singing any song in church on a Sunday. You kind of see here what would have been the band in the early gathering of God’s people 3000 years ago. Maybe this was only a string duet, but you get the idea. It was instruments and voices singing and praising the Lord. Further, the congregation were to sing a new song. I don’t believe that this meant getting rid of the old songs, it would be more fitting to think of it as coming to the Lord afresh in praise. We do this at Chatswood. We introduce new songs, and this is done so that we do continue to praise God with new melodies, with new words. We should also not miss the fact that playing and singing praise to the Lord means giving it our best. Play skillfully. Practice, give God our best praise. The psalmist isn’t just speaking to the band. No, this psalm is a congregational psalm. So, we need to ask ourselves, what does that look like for us when we turn up here on a Sunday morning. Are we prepared to come and praise God together in community? Or do we walk into church and sigh and then start to sing. That my friends is a long way from where this writer of this psalm asks us to be. Shout Joyfully is what is asked for, yet often I think what we do is sigh quietly. We are called to praise God, or to shout joyfully to him because of what verses 4 and 5 say.

Verse 4&5 show God’s character

4For the word of the Lord is right and true;

He is faithful in all he does.

5The Lord loves righteousness and justice;

The earth is full of his unfailing love

Those of us here today who trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour are righteous because God is righteous and faithful. We have been shown his unfailing love and his faithfulness through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and so we shout joyfully. God’s character is holy and righteous, and scripture is right and true.

The second section of this Psalm gives the singer, the reader, the worshipper a fuller theology of who God is and what He does.

  • God is the Sovereign ruler, maker and sustainer of all things.

Verses 6-9 tell of God  being the creator God. It is literally a retelling of some main aspects of the creation story from Genesis 1. Read these verses with me:

6By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,

Their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

7He gathers the waters of the sea into jars,

He puts the deep into storehouses.

8Let all the earth fear the Lord;

Let all the people of the world revere him.

9For he spoke, and it came to be;

He commanded, and it stood firm.

When we read these four verses we are immediately transported back to Genesis one. Transported back to the creation narrative. The amazing story of how God made all things. There are three words that spring to my mind when I read verses 6 and 9. ‘And God Said’. This is what we are remembering here. God spoke and creation happened. The starry host was created on the fourth day (Gen 1:16). He gathered the waters on the third day and dry land appeared (Gen 1:9). Then in Genesis 1:26, God spoke, and mankind was made in His image. These verses serve to remind us that it is God who is the creator. He made it all. By his word it came to be. This mean that there is only one creator, only one that had the power to create all things. So, don’t fear or worship the created things. No as verse 8 so clearly reminds us, fear the Lord, let all of the people of the world revere him, therefore shout joyfully to the Lord. He is the creator. God though didn’t just create all things and then leave. He created and then actively sustains all that he has created, creation stands firm. The gardening metaphor is used often throughout scripture. God not only creates the garden, but he tends to it and removes unwanted weeds, he waters, he feeds, he maintains. Without God’s constant care there would be no world, no people.

The last line of verse nine reads ‘He commanded, and it stood firm.’ This is because God’s plan doesn’t change. What God has in mind is the right way and we can trust in this. His plans are perfect.  Let’s look at verses 10-11.

10The Lord foils the plans of the nations;

He thwarts the purposes of the peoples.

11But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,

The purposes of his heart through all generations.

12Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,

The people he choose for his inheritance.

The creator and sustainer is in charge. He is in charge of the big things and as we will see shortly in this psalm, and also the individual. But here we are looking at countries, at nations. God’s plans will come to fruition. His purposes will rule. Humankinds own plans will in the end amount to nothing. To be foiled means to be stopped, to be prevented, to be countered. Where the nations plans are not aligned with God’s sovereign reign and purpose, they will fail. I am a supporter of Open Doors and I try and remember to pray often for the countries around the world where Christians are most persecuted. North Korea currently tops that list. To be a Christian in that country is to invite trouble, jail and even death. Yet that Nation, in fact any nation that opposes God will fall. We may watch the news each night and say when, but God will not let their purposes last. Genesis 19 tells the story of God judging Sodom and Gomorrah as they were a nation that rejected God. The Lord’s word is true, and we can have confidence that he is actively involved in every Nation, every country constantly. In the end there is only one way in which a nation and its people will be blessed and that is if they follow the Lord. If they follow the creator. When we look at when this psalm was written and the audience it was written for, it is hard not to picture Israel as the recipient of verse 12, yet the fact that Israel is not mentioned by name would seem to give a larger scope to the meaning and include all nations that follow God. Finally, we can say that indeed history displays that the Lord’s plans succeed, not matter what the nations plan.

Thus, we see that God, the creator and sustainer of all things is concerned with the world we live in. There is no country where the Lord’s plans will not triumph. The Psalmist then comes in for a closer view of the world and we leave the idea of nations and come to individuals. It is like a camera zooming in or Google earth zooming in from a country, to a suburb, then down to a house.

13From heaven the Lord looks down

And sees all mankind;

14From his dwelling place he watches-

All who live on earth –

15He who forms the hearts of all,

Who considers everything they do.

The creator so cares for his people. All people have been formed by God. And he watches all of us. That is an amazing statement. God sees every one of us, and not only that, he considers everything that everyone does. He is our maker and our sustainer, he knows everything that we do, not only what we do, but what we think. There is an incredible intimacy here, a closeness that is like no other. For whoever is closest to us in our lives, be it a relative or a friend, doesn’t know us like this. They don’t see everything that we do. Now there’s a thought that should make us all pause. God so loves us, that he not only created us, yet he sees us at every moment and still loves us and wants us to turn back to him through faith in Jesus.

We have seen that God is righteous, so his character is perfect, he created all that there is, he is in charge of nations, he made you and me, and knows all that we do. Not only all of these things, but he loves us and saves us, and this is the message of verses 16-19. Let’s read them together:

16No king is saved by the size of his army;

No warrior escapes by his great strength.

17A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;

Despite all of its great strength it cannot save.

18But the eyes of the Lord are on

Those who fear him,

On those whose hope is in his

Unfailing love,

19To deliver them from death

And keep them alive in famine.

The psalmist reminds us that while human armies may look strong and powerful and intimidate other countries. Only God’s plan will succeed. No matter how big the army, if God is not with them, they will fall. Likewise, a horse or perhaps for us today in 2019, a tank might seem like a good option for saving a soldier, yet it can’t save you. In the end no earthly thing or person can save you. The only way to be delivered from death is by God. Those who rightfully fear God, who stand in awe of their maker and sustainer, who hope in God’s unfailing love which we see in Romans which we as a church have been studying together. Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If you are a follower of Christ and you have set your hope firmly on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then, your hope is in his unfailing love and you will be delivered from death.

Let’s recap this

God is perfect, Holy

God is the creator and sustainer of all things.

He rules the nations

He watches and cares for the individual

In fact, he loves us so much, that even though we reject him. Even though we ignore him and sin often, He still loves us and wants us to place our trust in his Son. And when we do that, we are delivered from death to life. Does that make you joyful in hope?

  • Sure and certain hope.

The psalmist ends the psalm with the message of that sure and certain hope. Gods people can confidently say the following together. Read with me verses 20-22

20We wait in hope for the Lord;

He is our help and our shield.

21In him our hearts rejoice,

For we trust in his holy name.

22May your unfailing love rest upon us,

O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

After what we had read leading up to these last 3 verses it is hard to find another conclusion. If by putting out trust in God and his Son Jesus Christ means that we go from death to life. If it means that we will be resurrected on the last day as the word of God says it does. Then this is what we do. We wait in hope for the Lord. Not in the sense of ‘I hope this happens.’ No, it is a sure, a certain, a concrete hope. It is a hope that we believe is a reality that is guaranteed yet waiting to be fulfilled. And while we wait we are not alone. God is our strength and shield. He is our protector, the one whom, no matter how bad life seems, we can still count on. Go back to verse 4 for how this happens. “For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” We as people that have put our trust in Jesus can know with certainty that God is our help and our shield.

So, we are a people who are now waiting in hope, let’s be clear though, we are waiting. While we are waiting for the Lord Jesus to return, we are living in a broken world. We do have all kinds of troubles, let’s be honest we also worry, yet God doesn’t want us to worry. Jesus commanded us not to be anxious or worry about the necessities in life. If we trust that God is indeed our strength and out shield, then we can truly turn from worry and our hearts will rejoice and we turn to praise him. Our first bible reading today from 1 Peter 1 reminds us that we have a living hope because of Jesus resurrection and our faith in him. Verse 4 and 5 of 1 Peter 1 fits wonderfully with verse 20 of Psalm 33. “This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who by faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” Just like the final verses of the psalm these words envisage that life won’t be easy, but our certain hope in Jesus resurrection, in the Father as our Creator and in the Holy Spirit living inside all who believe means that in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in while we wait for the Lord’s return. Whatever our lot, we have a sure and certain hope and can trust in God to be our help and our shield. Therefore, as Verse 21 says, “In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.”

Conclusion

The three parts of this psalm are vital in the Christian walk. I have a slide up that shows how one leads to the other. The structure of this psalm leaves little doubt that this was the writers’ intention. For he exalted the congregation to praise God, and then to remember who God is and what he has done, and then to receive the hope that comes from remembering God and what he has done. While we can see how this works in the psalm. How does it work in our lives?

Do we when we feel anxious read God’s word?

Do we when we worry start to give thanks and praise God for who he is and what he’s done?

We praise God because we read in his word that he loves us and has saved us through his Son. This then fills us with hope. This hope then leads to praise of the King of Glory, which fills us more with hope and sustains us. Then as we daily read God’s word we can’t help but be filled with hope and this hope leads to praise. These three ingredients, praise, God’s word (The Gospel) and hope are tied together. You cannot separate them. When we come together as the people of God here at Chatswood Baptist Church our hope in Jesus should mean that we praise him in song and prayer and fellowship. Conversely, when we sing these songs and hear good news about God so loving the world that he sent His one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Well this ought to fill us with hope. Let’s ensure that as we go from this place today we continue to praise our Lord and Saviour. That we continue to praise him in song, in shouts of Joy, by reading his word, by thanking him in all things, and may we be filled with the living hope that we have through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.